CRF450R • KX450F • 450SX-F • 350SX-F • RM-Z450 • YZ450F
As is: The KTM 450SX-F is the
overall powerhouse of the group,
making stellar power from bottom to
top and with enough muscle to make
your eyes bulge. The hydraulic clutch
offers a smooth feel and superb
engagement ability. The brakes are
intense, the cockpit modular and the
feel throughout has evolved into normalcy (a hard-fought battle). And, it
has electric start!
On the less-than-stunning side are
the weight and the suspension action.
There was nothing we could do about
the tonnage with our pedestrian budget, but the suspension lacks suppleness, even on a motocross track, and
flat recoils when pushed into an off-road arena.
Priorities: Suspension is key here.
We’ve had excellent results with both
Precision Concepts and Pro Circuit
valving/spring combos. The Precision
WP suspension mods target
smoother initial travel, yet the suspension stays up in the stroke, resisting diving and squat, and aids in traction. Pro Circuit’s mods were similar,
though our settings seemed more
compliant initially and a little softer
through the middle. Both take the big
hits superbly and are must-do mods
if you want the machine to have an
appetite for a versatile world.
The fuel tank is decently sized at
1.98 gallons, though IMS has an
excellent 3.1 tank, and the bike could
use a skid plate. TM Designworks has
a minimalist plate and a full-coverage
unit that are ridiculously strong.
Exhaust-wise, there is an internal
screen, but it is not a legal spark
arrestor. The stock exhaust is too
loud for real off-road, and there are
two systems that can cure this problem: the Pro Circuit T4 and the FMF
4.1. Both systems offer a header with
a canister or module that helps with
sound and enhance bottom power.
The rear mufflers are spark legal and
help knock off some of the crack that
all MX machines suffer with.
FMF pipes come in stainless steel,
which is critical for life in the off-road
world. We also tested the DRD and
gained power as well as legality.
Potential: There is no doubt that
the KTM 450SX-F sits at the top of
the heap. Power, starting, brakes,
quality parts and adjustability offset
some suspension groans that are
totally fixable. The big question is
whether it’s at the top by itself.